Direct Political Negotiations... A Mandatory Entry to the Solution
Saad Saeb Saad Saeb

Direct Political Negotiations... A Mandatory Entry to the Solution

Although it has been 12 years since the eruption of the Syrian crisis, direct negotiations between the Syrian sides have not really taken place except on three occasions, and in passing, which were neither completed nor built upon. One of those times was in the Geneva 2 conference, which cannot be considered direct negotiations as much as a political show, and the two Syrian sides in which did not have any real desire to reach a solution, as much as they used the platforms provided by that conference to throw around accusations and escalate the conflict.

The two other times, which had limited results, were the first and second consultative Moscow meetings in the first half of 2015, which were held with Russian facilitation, and during which direct and real dialogue took place, but they were not seen through to completion to reach an actual start of the solution.

Years of media dueling

After UNSC Resolution 2254 was adopted at the end of 2015, when military battles dominated the scene, talk about political tracks remained weak and secondary, and the slogans of “militarily resolving” and “toppling (the regime)” were still the loudest. Although Geneva III started in 2016, it quickly stopped as a result of the incomprehensible suspension by the opposition delegation at the time of the negotiations that had not actually begun.

Although the Geneva meetings started reconvening in 2017 more frequently, they remained without direct negotiations, and remained an arena for media dueling and exchanges, which continued until these meetings stopped in early 2018 without ever reaching direct negotiations, and work began on forming the Constitutional Committee, which lasted two years to hold its first meeting in October 2019.

Although the main subject of the Constitutional Committee is not negotiating a solution, but rather negotiating and discussing the future constitution, its meetings in terms of format seemed to be direct negotiations. However, this was not the case, as illustrated by all subsequent facts. These included the Syrian government considering the delegation from its side not being its representative, but rather supported by it, which clearly means disowning any results that could be reached. More importantly there was the fact that things stayed within a state of not admitting the need for direct negotiations, which above all requires mutual recognition between the negotiating sides.

On the opposition side, extremists within the opposition were in control of the file, and they were the same ones who publicly rejected Resolution 2254 and the Geneva Communiqué when they were adopted, and later accepted them within the framework of a necessary adjustment that ensures continuing their role of disrupting the solution from within the UN. They expressed in concrete behavior their arbitrariness and “democracy”, starting with the way the opposition delegation was formed within the broad and small bodies of the Committee, in which political components of northeastern Syria were excluded, not to mention the way the seats in the Committee were distributed to guarantee their role as the “leading party”. There was also the way they expelled the “violators”, which happened on more than one occasion, including dismissal of the Moscow Platform representative as punishment for the Platform’s call to transfer the Committee’s work to Damascus given the necessary guarantees for that are provided.

In general, all the “negotiations” that have taken place so far, except for the first and second Moscow meetings, were merely media dueling during which the sides do not recognize each other. All these “negotiations” also took the form of indirect negotiations among the warring countries much more than the form of political negotiations in which the sides seek to put a stop to the bloodshed of their country and the war therein, reunify it, and end the presence of foreign forces in it.

The importance of direct negotiations

Direct negotiations primarily mean tangible acknowledgment by the negotiating sides that the only way out is through a political solution. This is because the different sides merely verbally acknowledging the political solution has proven in practice that it is just a verbal and “tactical” recognition. Meanwhile, each side seeks to crush the other sides, relying on prolonging the crisis, while the reality of things is that all Syrian sides and their capabilities have been crushed, and with them Syria, its capabilities, and its potentials, while half of its people and the bulk of its competencies have been displaced.

These same sides have become and are becoming weaker with each additional day, because power is a comprehensive concept that does not express itself only through security power, although this also has become weaker in terms of performing the natural positive side of its tasks in maintaining security. Power also includes the ability to manage society, manage development, ensure turning the economic wheel, and provide basic services to the people, and so on. All these are now in the hands of a group of warlords, influential individuals, and big corrupt entities and monopolists who have a tight grip over the people and the country.

Going back to the idea of direct negotiations, it is, as we have said, a concrete recognition of accepting the political solution and accepting that it is the real way out of the crisis. Whatever this or that political Syrian side, and those who support this or that, think of the other sides, the fact that no one can deny is that deep fissures exist among the people of the same country, not to mention the division of the country into different spheres of influence, and on top of that there are foreign forces from various countries on its territories.

The process of restoring the unity of the country and the people cannot take place without reaching comprehensive change, not through one side beating another, not only because that is impossible, but also because this beating deepens the fissures and wounds among Syrians and poses a threat to the future and unity of the country.

Therefore, mutual recognition among the various sides based on Resolution 2254 through direct negotiations is the basic ground that is indispensable in moving towards a comprehensive solution and ending the crisis. If among the extremist sides within the regime or the opposition are some who try to imply that direct recognitions is a “patriotic” defeat, then that is an excuse that has no value because the whole country is what we are losing before our eyes through the continuation of the crisis and catastrophe. Given that the political solution will lead at the end to free and fair elections in which the Syrian people are asked about their opinion of everyone, this is an explicit expression of one of two things: either the extremist sides already know the Syrians’ opinions of them and therefore fear any solution that leads to asking Syrians about their opinion, or these sides do not consider the Syrian people “qualified” to decide their destiny on their own and want to decide it for them. It is difficult to decide which of the two opinions is worse than the other, and which excuse is nastier than the other.

If the West, specifically the Americans and the Zionists, are doing their best to keep the country a quagmire and push it towards total fragmentation, while they disrupt any possibility for a real solution through direct and indirect support for the extremists and their proposals, then Syrian patriots’ duty is to push towards the solution and through direct negotiations for the full implementation of Resolution 2254, and in cooperation with the countries, in the interest of which is actually ending the crisis and ending the quagmire situation. The capabilities of this cooperation have become at the highest they have been compared to the past, where in addition to the deepening of understandings within the Astana trio, the recent Shanghai conference and its results show that the possibilities of securing regional and international consensus that counters Western/Zionist sabotage are higher and closer to realization.


(النسخة العربية)

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